Image

Acton Notes - May 2007

Top Catholic High Schools

Applications are now being accepted for the 2007 Catholic High School Honor Roll. The Honor Roll is an annual list of the top fifty Catholic high schools in the United States, where schools are examined on the criteria of academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education.

Since the Honor Roll’s inception in 2004, schools have found that placing in the Top 50 list is powerful publicity. Whether it is with media coverage, institutional recognition, or praise from the local community, schools are seeing increased enrollment, energized staffs, proud donors, and a tremendous marketing opportunity. More than 200 media stories have helped highlight the good work Catholic high schools do.

The extended application deadline is May 31, and free for schools to participate. All of the nearly 1,400 Catholic secondary schools in the United States are eligible to apply. Schools can apply by returning the three surveys that were recently sent to schools in an application packet, or schools may apply online at www.chshonor.org. If a school completes each of the three surveys online, it will be entered in a drawing for $1,500 in scholarships.

A new feature for 2007 is the ability for anyone to nominate a school. If you think a school deserves to be recognized, fill out the online form at www.chshonor.orgso they have the chance to participate.

Also new in 2007, every school that applies will receive a detailed, comprehensive evaluation that gives feedback, offers tips for improvement, shows where it stands amongst its peers, and details its strengths and weaknesses. This evaluation alone will be worth the time it takes to apply.

The primary goal of the Honor Roll is to encourage schools to educate students as effectively as possible, in a way that integrates Catholic faith and prepares students for active engagement with the world. In promoting rigorous education, the Honor Roll desires to prepare students for fruitful vocations in politics, business, and the church.

From Our Conference Participants

Leaving the conference, I felt strongly aware of the beauty and capability of the freedom of individuals to give themselves to others through appropriate societal means.

—Sean O’Connell
St. Francis Seminary
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

My experience at the Acton Conference was invaluable. It reinforced my convictions about the natural law basis of all human societies and gave me new insight into concrete problems from the perspectives of multiple academic disciplines.

—Kony Kim
Westminster Seminary California
Escondido, California

Acton Welcomes New Summer Interns

Interns are a vibrant part of busy Acton summers, and the institute is eager to welcome the next group of young scholars this June. Summer 2007 interns will help to organize Acton University, the Catholic High School Honor Roll, and other key projects throughout June, July, and August. Last summer, Acton hosted eight interns from colleges and universities across the nation at its offices in Grand Rapids and Rome. Research and writing, assisting with Acton University, and interacting with the institute’s own scholars kept the interns on their toes and thoroughly immersed in matters of faith and freedom. Steve Van Beek, a George Mason University law student, said he benefited intellectually and experientially from his time at Acton.

Informal “Lunch & Learn” sessions hosted by Acton staff helped to ground his understanding of religious and economic issues; but beyond that, Van Beek said his internship allowed him “to experience the free-market movement.” In Rome, Diane Barberini researched curricula on economics, philosophy, and the history of Catholic social teaching. The interns also enjoyed getting to know one another in an environment that combined real intellectual challenges with ideological common ground. The program kicked off last summer with a barbecue meet-and-greet to help connect the students before they began their work.

One of Acton’s aims in hosting interns is to equip budding scholars in all fields to articulate free-market economics from a faithfully Christian perspective. Many summer 2006 interns said they had a greater sense of direction in their professional callings after participating in the program. Although Acton interns tend to study the humanities, government, or journalism, civil engineering major Elizabeth Kovalak found herself able to experience the best of both worlds through her academic internship at Acton. Other interns said they are better prepared to meet challenges that lie ahead. “The experience and opportunity was invaluable in allowing me to develop my voice in analyzing politics from a moral or Christian perspective,” said Notre Dame junior Andrew Lynn.

Acton and You

Acton’s director of research, Dr. Sam Gregg, presented “The Crisis of Europe: Benedict XVI’s Analysis and Solution” for the 2007 Acton Lecture Series on April 10, attended by more than seventy Acton supporters in the broader Grand Rapids community.

Dr. Gregg explained that Europe is in economic and demographic crisis, with poor economic performance, languishing entrepreneurial activity, stagnating birth rates, and aging populations. In addition, Europe has undergone an influx of immigrants, largely from Muslim countries, accompanied by a lack of assimilation to their new locales, creating more tension. Europe has lacked the political will to respond effectively to these problems, reflecting how historically and culturally embedded the crisis is.

Gregg offered a summation of Pope Benedict XVI’s analysis and solutions for Europe’s predicament. Benedict identifies the rise of secularism, relativism, liberal Christianity, failed implementation of Vatican II, and the severance of faith and reason as roots of Europe’s cultural failures. To counter these elements, Benedict suggests ideas, not politics, as a medium for change, calling on like-minded secular thinkers, prominent Catholic Europeans and other Christians to contribute to a cultural revolution.